AUGUSTA, Maine — An investigation by a division of the Maine State Police was unable to determine why a lieutenant’s firearm accidentally discharged during a computer training session.
Lt. Shawn Currie, commander of the state police commercial vehicle enforcement division, was not disciplined after the Feb. 27 incident.
Currie was attending the training at the agency’s former headquarters at 36 Hospital St. when his gun belt reportedly rode up, according to a synopsis of the incident that the Bangor Daily News obtained Friday after submitting a request under the Freedom of Access Act.
The gun belt “was causing discomfort to his hip so he pushed down on the back of the grip with an open palm after extending his right leg out in front of him. He stated that as he pushed on the back of the grip, his handgun discharged,” Maj. Gary Wright of Maine State Police Operations wrote in his incident review report.
While no one was injured, the discharged round of ammunition ricocheted off the floor and struck Trooper Shane Northrup, who also was attending the training session, in the back of the leg, Wright wrote. Currie suffered a small powder burn on his right leg from the discharge and Northrup had a small red mark on his right leg from the ricochet, he noted.
Northrup removed the magazine from Currie’s firearm, an HK .45-caliber handgun, and then removed the gun from the retention holster it was secured in, the report states. Currie reported the incident to Motor Carrier Supervisor James Wright, who also was attending the training, and to Sgt. William Keith, the agency’s primary firearms instructor.
After a cursory safety inspection and function check, Currie’s gun and holster were secured in the state police armory and he was issued replacements. Currie was advised to prepare a memo documenting the incident, which he did, the report shows.
Extensive testing by Keith and Detective Robert Burns, firearms examiner at the state crime laboratory, indicated that neither the gun nor the holster were defective and that function testing on the gun “indicated that all safety features functioned properly and as intended,” according to Keith’s memo of the findings.
Keith also offered the following additional conclusions.
“Testing conducted could not recreate an unintentional discharge when utilizing the same variables that were present at the time of the incident,” he wrote. “Only when introducing an obstruction, ie. material into the trigger guard, were the testers able to cause the HK45 to discharge by pushing down on the back of the weapon while it was locked into the holster.”
Keith also noted that “the HK45 was not capable of firing without the trigger being drawn to the rear,” Wright reported.
In Keith’s report, which was attached to the incident review, Keith concluded that Currie’s description of the incident “was duplicated in the lab and the pistol was unable to be discharged.
“During testing, the pistol discharged only when removed from the holster and a foreign object (cloth, finger or strap) was introduced into and or through the trigger guard and the pistol was reinserted into the holster.”
Maine Department of Public Safety spokesman Stephen McCausland said the incident did not result in a change in policy for state troopers.
“The report was reviewed with Lt. Currie and discussed with him and he was apprised of the findings,” McCausland said Friday. “There was no disciplinary action.”